Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Twitter alternatives realize different fates

Nov 8, 2023

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Social media startups are seeking to seize an opportunity to compete with X. It started after Elon Musk's Twitter (now X) takeover last year, and while the desire to take social share remains, whether they can make a dent remains a big and open question.

Why it matters: A viable winner could make life difficult for X at a time when issues are steadily stacking up against it.

Driving the news: Spill, a social app founded by an ex-Twitter employee, announced Tuesday that it raised $2 million in pre-seed extension funding led by Collide Capital.

Details: Spill has focused on serving Black, LGBTQ+ and other historically marginalized users, as recently profiled by CNN.

  • Spill has garnered more than 200,000 users since it launched an invite-only beta product in June and has another 200,000 on a waitlist.

Yes, but: That user total is a pittance compared to X, which has more than 550 million monthly active users, according to an X executive.

  • Meta came out of the gates strong with Threads, signing up nearly 30 million users on its first day. But engagement on the platform still pales compared to the attention remaining on X.

Meanwhile, one social media upstart has already folded.

  • Pebble (formerly T2) shut down on Nov. 1, citing lackluster growth amid the crowded market. It had raised $1.1 million from angel investors in January.
  • "We are immensely proud of what our team and our community have accomplished together," Pebble said in an Oct. 24 email to users. "In order to continue to build out a complete Pebble, we would have needed more investment, and more time."

What we're watching: Spill plans to exit beta and open to everyone by next year, a company spokesperson tells Axios. That switch will be another important point for evaluating product success and sustainability.

Go deeper